Grateful Mindset

It has been a great year. I am grateful for many things and many people. Let me just recount a few. I will start with something small.
I am thankful for a stranger whose car I bumped on highway 101. It was a sunny afternoon during the typical busy commute hour. The traffic was stop-and-go. The CD I was listening just ended, so I was fiddling around to find the next one. Somehow, the next disc was particularly difficult to fish out of its container and I have to turn and look at the thing. Oh, well, that is when I hear a thump. I just realized that I have hit someone in front of me and it is definitely my fault for no watching the road. “Great,” I said to myself, “now I have to face an angry driver and be late for picking up the kids.” I sat that for a moment before getting out the car. It turned out that there was not any serious damage because the cars were moving very slow. When the lady driver came out of the car, I asked whether she was hurt. She answered “no.” She walked to the back of her car and looked at her back bumper. I asked her whether she needed my insurance information, she grinned and said, “forget about it.” “Huh, she is not angry, and she does not even want my insurance information. This is a lot better than I was expecting.” I thought to myself, and then said, “Are you sure?” She said that she was sure. What can I say? I was relieved to hear that. I smiled and said to her, “Thanks. You are so kind.” She got back in her car and drove away. In a minute, my mode went from dread to relief; I could not express how happy I felt about the outcome that I did not even remember to ask for her name. As I was driving home, I couldn’t help myself but to repeat the words “Thank you.”
At my work place, this has been a tough year because the funding for a number of projects has run out. This is not unique to our research group, because the overall funding level has gone down. The situation is that we will be forced to fire people if the situation does not improve. The organization I am in has a rule based on years of service – the newest staff is to be let go first. I was personally involved in working with three of the newest members in our group. I was clearly concerned. However, my manager was a few steps ahead of me on this matter. He has talked to these guys already and they have made plans way before I realized. It turned out that all three of them got decent jobs in universities. I am very happy that they all have good jobs and more importantly, I am grateful for a boss who plans.
The struggle to get additional funding for our group has been particularly difficult this year. I am aware of very contentious meetings that my group lead has to attend, and insidious underhanded moves against some of my colleagues. I am grateful that he is taking care of those issues so that I can continue to have a job. Thanks, boss.


Orange Parking

During a recent visit to Beijing, a friend complained about the numerous cars with special license plates driving like they own the road and exacerbating the already bad traffic problems. These cars are from numerous armed force headquarters and ministries of the central government. In China, they are issued special license plates to identify their special status. These organizations often view themselves as far above the city government, not to mention the local police departments who enforce the traffic laws. This was an occasion for me to brag about American where everyone follows the traffic laws. However that self-righteousness feeling did not last very long, I was soon reminded by an incident on my own commute to work.
I work for a place where parking spaces are in short supply. They issue three different parking permits that we have to display inside our wind shields. The three parking permits come in three distinct colors: green, blue and orange, with the orange permits exclusively reserved for the upper-level management. While driving, the parking placard is easy to spot from the front of the card, but not from the back.
On this fateful morning, I made a stupid mistake of passing a car that has stopped for a pedestrian – it was technically a legal move because the pedestrian has passed my side of the road. The street becomes one lane just a few step after that intersection and by moving first, I got in front of the car that has to stop longer than me. Apparently my move had seriously offended the driver in the other car. She immediately started tailing me very closely. This gave me a good opportunity to notice the orange parking permit. At the next stop sign a couple of blocks down the road, while I was stopped, she zoomed ahead. I thought to myself “Thank goodness. That was over.” Since I don’t remember seeing her in any offices directly above me, I was pretty sure that was the last I would see that boss lady. Guess I was wrong.
When I arrived at the gate of my workplace, this boss lady apparently had arrived long enough to instruct the security guard to give me some hassle. The security guard waved me to the side and started telling me that he had received complaints that I was driving erratically. Luckily, a few “sorry, sir” and “yes, sir” were all it needed to end that exchange. The whole thing took less than two minutes.
The incident itself is not a big deal. However, once in a while, I cannot help but to remind myself to slow down and look around at that intersection just in case that boss lady is right in front of me again.
The moral of the story: don’t try to gain a space or two by cutting in front of other cars, you will probably get into some sort of trouble and ended up taking more time. Especially not to pass those cars with some sort of authority prominently displayed, no matter how small, their egos need more protection than the bald eagles – just leave them alone.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.


Freedom of Gratitude

This Thanksgiving I should have a lot of great things to be thankful for. I said “should” because I have been distracted by too many details to feel the joy. That changed last Sunday when I saw the words “Freedom of Gratitude” projected overhead during the sermon. Yes, “having a sense of gratitude” frees me from those nitty-grittys that bother me, and reminding myself about what I have helps me with a more positive view of the surroundings. Last Thanksgiving, I wrote something about what I was thankful for at that time. This is a perfect time for me to write another one.
Let me start with the notable things in my family. I am very grateful that my family is in good health. Earlier today, I was on the phone with a colleague who was working at home. It turned out that he was at his parent’s house instead of his own house, because his parents are under the weather. At the same time, he was also baby-sitting his own kid who was interrupting him while we were on the phone. That definitely reminded me how lucky that I don’t have to any of that.
Both my wife and I have decent jobs. With the overall economic situation the way it is, many people are facing the tough situation of losing their jobs and their homes. We are very grateful to have both. I often complain about the commute, but a 40-minute commute to work is quite common around the area I live in. Compared with those facing much harder problems, this little commute problem is nothing.
It has been a banner for me at work. My nearly a decade’s work on a software package has been made public and started to help people from different part of the world. This has lead to some recognition for the software. I am very grateful for my boss who has worked hard to keep the work funded through some tough times. I am even more grateful to those creative people who find ingenious ways to use the software to make interesting applications.
It is about time for me to get going so I will stop here. The important thing to remember is “Be Thankful.” It costs nothing, but may do a lot of good.

Col 3:15 be ye thankful.


Mostly Asians

A couple of days back, I heard a local news report about a rally in support of Prop. 8 in 2008 California general election. The announcer described the rally as organized by a number of local churches and attended by a few thousand people. For whatever reason, he added "mostly Asians" after a brief pause. I can not tell whether it was the tone of his voice or something else, it really annoyed me. Was it wrong for that mostly Asian crowd to take a stand against the four judges who overruled the voice of people by invalidating Proposition 22? Was it wrong for that crowd to voice their support for traditional marriages? Or are Asians supposed to hide in their homes to let the main stream media decide what they are supposed to think?

I was trying to dig up some explanations about this "mostly Asians" comment, then I noticed something else, a survey of Asian American reported by Mercury News on October 15, 2008. The headline was "Survey: Asian-Americans overwhelmingly against outlawing gay marriage". The article explained that homosexuality is no long an issue of fundamental morality among Asian Americans, but instead Asian Americans sympathize with the homosexuals because many different Asian groups were oppressed by the majority at one time or another. Apparently, the homosexuals have played their role of victim so well that a lot of people are convinced that they are oppressed.

The simply fact is that homosexuals are not oppressed by anyone. In some places around the world, homosexual behavior is considered so vile that the perpetrators are put to death. However, that is not the case here in California. In certain cities, one almost is required to be a homosexual to be elected into an office. Granted that there are certain very low barriers to discourage perversion, for example, to buy alcohol in California, one has to show proof of age, or if you spit on the street, a police officer can give you a ticket. These are for the basic protection of the people. Both drug addicts and homosexuals are identified with a bad behavior, however, the fundamental difference is that a drug addict typically realise that there is something wrong and want to correct the problem or at least contain it. On the other hand, the homosexual community has been imposing on everyone else the notion that their behavior is normal and respectable. This is where they are wrong. They are not victims, but aggressors -- plotting and scheming to get everyone brainwashed.

That "mostly Asian" crowd did not buy into the homosexual propaganda, I am very happy for that. I felt proud to be an Asian when I saw some Asians braving the wind and rain, holding signs of "yes on 8" at a number of intersections around town. It gives me hope that most Asians in California still care a whole lot about morals.

PS: here is an good moral argument for the existence of God.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God